Photo by Gwendolyn Meyer
Baserri has the terroir of West Marin; it tastes like sheep's milk and like the grass they eat on those beautiful hills."
Katrina Parlato, General Manager, Quince Restaurant, San Francisco
Our dairy sheep graze our hilly pastures year round. Our lambs are born in March and we let the lambs have the benefit of the first month of their mothers’ milk.
From April through October we milk our ewes twice a day, and make their rich, delicious, raw milk into a Basque-style cheese that is aged for 60 to 90 days before release. We use a variety of cultures, and traditional animal rennet in the cheese. 2009 was our first year of production and I made only 600 pounds of cheese, which went on sale in August and was sold out by mid-November. In 2010 I made around 3000 pounds of cheese, in the 2011 and 2012 seasons we made about 5000 pounds and we expect our production to be a bit higher this 2013 season.
My amazing affinage assistant from the 2010 season, Anna Erickson, became my assistant cheesemaker in 2011 and is back in 2013 for her third season making cheese. Lisa Radke is helping out with affinage this season, and Taryn Orlemann has returned to manage the affinage and aging rooms. Taryn spent part of last year on an internship with Mons Affineurs in France, and we are so happy to have her back with us taking care of the cheese!
Our 90-day aged cheese will be available from July through December, and this season we will be aging some cheese for 6 to 9 months to begin selling in January 2014.
Ewe being milked: Photo by Paige Green
Barinaga Ranch Txiki was one of four cheeses to make Sunset Magazine's 2011 "Hot List," 100 top foods to eat, places to visit, things to do. See the article here.
Our Baserri was the centerfold cheese in the Fall 2011 issue of Culture magazine.
What people are saying about our cheese:
I was featured as one of 10 Artisans to Watch in the April 2012 issue of San Francisco Magazine. (Hint: when you click on this link, there is a tiny little right-pointing arrow at the bottom of the screen in the story about jams. Use it to click through the artisans. I'm the 7th artisan listed.)
Ella Lawrence wrote a great piece about us recently in Bay Area Bites.
We were included in an article in the Bohemian about local cheesemakers.
We had a nice mention by Ben Narasin in SF Foodie.
Ray Bair wrote about his visit to the ranch in his September 2011 Cheese Plus newsletter.
Our cheese was recommended by Debra Dickerson and Laura Werlin in SF Foodie in March 2011.
See this recent article about our cheese by Emily Kaiser in The Tasting Table.
Barinaga Ranch: Best Monday Ever by Sarah Dvorak
Barinaga Sheep Ranch: Marshall Matters by Kirstin Jackson
Hooping the cheese
The integrity with which Marcia's cheeses are made is equaled only by the explosive flavors in her cheeses that result. Baserri and Txiki are two of America's best cheeses.
Laura Werlin, author of The New American Cheese and Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials
The larger of our two cheeses is called Baserri, which means farmhouse in Basque. This cheese is a 4- to 5-pound tomme. The green Basque countryside in France and Spain is dotted with ancient tile-roofed baserris where Basque farmers still make their living in traditional ways, often milking their sheep by hand and making small batches of cheese that they sell locally. Our Baserri is made in that spirit, in small batches, by hand. It is a West Marin interpretation of the Basque cheeses you can buy from farmhouses in the Basque country.
Txiki, which means “little” in Basque, is a smaller version of Baserri, a 1.5- to 2-pound tommette-sized cheese made from the same recipe as Baserri. The shape produces a different relationship of paste to rind, and a more rapid aging.
You can buy Baserri and Txiki at Cowgirl Creamery in their three shops in Point Reyes Station, at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and in Washington D.C.
Other shops in San Francisco that carry our cheese include BiRite Market, Mission Cheese, Canyon Market, Say Cheese, Local Mission Market, Rainbow Grocery, Little Vine, Cheese Plus, Lucca Delicatessen, and Salumeria.
North of San Francisco you can buy our cheese at the new Farmshop at the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur Landing, Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax, Mill Valley Market in Mill Valley, Woodlands Market in Kentfield, Driver's Market in Sausalito, Freestone Artisan Cheese in Freestone, Petaluma Market and Whole Foods in Petaluma, Harvest Market in Mendocino and Fort Bragg, Kent's Meats and Groderies in Redding, and Oliver's Market in Santa Rosa.
In the Wine Country, you'll find our cheese at Oxbow Cheese Merchant in Napa, Park 121 in Sonoma, the Cheese Shop and Big John's Market and the Healdsburg Shed in Healdsburg, and Sunshine Foods in St. Helena.
A number of wineries also use our cheese in their tasting programs, including Cardinale Winery in Oakville, Arrowood Vineyards and Lasseter Family Winery in Glen Ellen, Portalupi Winery in Healdsburg, Occasio in Livermore, Quintessa Winery and Baldacci Family Vineyards in Napa, Inglenook and Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, and Domaine Chandon in Yountville.
In the East Bay our cheese you can buy our cheese at the Pasta Shop on College Avenue in Oakland and on 4th St in Berkeley.
In Southern California you will find our cheese at New Frontiers Natural Marketplace in San Luis Obispo, Paradise Pantry in Ventura, and in the Los Angeles area at Farmshop in Santa Monica, Silverlake Wine and Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits and Cheese in Los Angeles, the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, and the Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City.
Because our production is so small, our cheese is generally sold locally and doesn't very often make it out of California. But I want to note and acknowledge a few far flung cheese shops that regularly carry our cheese, including Wedge, in Reno, Nevada, The Cheese Cellar in Seattle, Washington, Antonelli's Cheese Shop in Austin, Texas, Scardello Artisan Cheese in Dallas, Texas, Bedford Cheese Shop in New York City, Round Swamp Farm in East Hampton, NY, Talula's Table in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, City Vineyard in Billings, Montana, Fromagio's Artisan Cheese in Anchorage, Alaska, Bern's Cave du Fromage in Tampa, Florida, and Zzest Culinary Market and Wine Cafe in Rochester, Minnesota!
If you can't find our cheese at a cheese shop near you, join our mailing list! We offer a limited number of whole wheels of Txiki by mail order, once a month or so, on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are interested, sign up now to get on the list, and we will notify you of our next offering. Go to the contact page to sign up.
Restaurants serving our cheese in San Francisco include Quince, Zuni Cafe, One Market, Ame, Jardiniere, the Intercontinental San Francisco, Local Missiion Eatery, Local's Corner,Foreign Cinema, Prospect, Bar Crudo, Bar Agricole, Bar Jules, La Movida, Spruce, Greens, Waterbar, Boulevard, the St Regis Hotel, and Piperade.
In the wine country you can find our cheese at The French Laundry in Yountville, Chalkboard Bistro & Wine Bar and Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, Fagiani's and Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, Terra and French Blue in St Helena, The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort and Park 121 in Sonoma, John Ash and Company at the Vintner's Inn in Santa Rosa, and Luxe Calistoga, Calistoga Ranch, Jole Restaurant and Solage, in Calistoga.
In the Los Angeles area, our cheese is served in Beverly Hills at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and the Beverly Hills Hotel, at Gjelina in Venice, the Napa Valley Grill in Westwood, Baco Mercat in Los Angeles, Squirl in East Hollywood, Salt's Cure in West Hollywood, Juliette in Newport Beach, Chez Melange in Redondo Beach, and Capo, Tar and Roses, and the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.
In West Sonoma County our cheese is served at Zazu Kitchen and Farm in Sebastopol.